Mercedes team director Toto Wolff says he wants seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton to extend his one-year contract with Silver Arrows this summer, to avoid the same kind of delays that led to the Briton only renewing his contract in February 2021 – after the previous one was already expired.
Both Hamilton and Silver Arrows are aiming for their eighth F1 championship this season, and have hit the country while the reigning champion won the Bahrain Grand Prix in March that raises the curtain. And Wolff obviously wants to keep the 36-year-old from the past 2021.
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Asked if he wanted Hamilton to stay in Mercedes next season, Wolff replied: “I hope so; the trip we had together was very successful. He is the driver of a Mercedes – a child of Mercedes from his go-karts. He has never driven a single weekend in Formula 1 without a Mercedes unit, so that is a logical continuation of the story. “
But the head of the team said in Bahrain that he wants to avoid another tense discussion about the contract and thus jump in the possibility that Hamilton will eventually renew his contract with the team only after the season is over – or worse, when he decides to leave Mercedes.
“Certainly,” he continued. “We do not want to leave two drivers to confirm until January. Valtteri [Bottas] it was pretty regular during the summer – then it should happen. Also, to give the driver peace of mind or to be able to concentrate on work.
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“And it’s obvious that there will be a lot of balls in the air next year and we will always strive to do our best for the team in the long run, while at the same time giving full allegiance to our current lineup of drivers.
“We don’t doubt either Valtteri or Lewis, but the talks will obviously happen – but not in January next year,” added Wolff, who also has Williams and Mercedes Junior driver George Russell – who finally reported Covid’s hit-Hamilton of the year Sakhir Grand Prix – waiting in the wings and eager to get a place with the leading F1 team.
For now, Hamilton and his teammate Valtteri Bottas aim to increase Mercedes ’advantage in the next race in Imola, although they will keep an eye on Red Bull, Max Verstappen and their very fast RB16B car.